Four Montclair women are teaming up for a night of fun and purpose, raising funds for women in southern states where access to abortion is threatened. 

Montclair residents and mothers Laura Benanti, Miranda Ferris-Jones, Bridget Placek and Marina Miller are hosting a Pro-Choice Dance Party, exclusively for people who identify as women and femmes 18 years and older, on Tuesday, June 7, at the Montclair Brewery from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. 

All proceeds from the dance-a-thon will go to Yellowhammer, an organization that provides abortion access in the South.

The organizers hope to raise at least $10,000 and aim for 100 participants to attend. As of May 26, they’d raised 35% of their fundraising goal. They hope that they’ll be able to increase their goal in the next week to $20,000.

The event comes as an initial draft majority opinion showed the U.S. Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, which protects a woman’s right to an abortion. The court has yet to release a final decision. 

“It just feels really critical at this moment in time, given the court is going to release their final opinion on Roe v. Wade I believe over the summer,” Miller said. “I think all women in Montclair, all people really feel super-activated and want the chance to do something, and to help others. And so we felt like the time that it's imminent to basically do this is now.”

The event is a way for women to claim their rights and come together through dance and song for something that is important to them.

“When all of this hit the news, we went into sort of mobilization mode and tried to think about a thoughtful way to create a space where women could come together and feel their frustration. But also, you know, sort of celebrate the joy that is being a woman,” Placek said. 

The dance-a-thon has a number of ways to get involved: People can sign up to be a dancer with a general admission ticket ($25) or VIP ticket ($150), people can send out the link to their friends and family to sponsor them, or people can make a general donation, all on the website: Businesses can offer up merchandise as an in-kind sponsorship.  

There will also be a silent auction where everything from a private dance lesson to a commissioned portrait of a pet will be offered. 

Benanti, a Tony Award winner and co-star of “Life and Beth” with Amy Schumer and of HBO’s “The Gilded Age,” is auctioning off the dress she wore as Melania Trump on “The Late Night with Stephen Colbert.”

The four organizers first met when they came together to organize the Montclair Women’s March back in the fall. 

“The friendship between the four of us has been such a lifeline during an increasingly scary time,” Benanti said. “We hope to bring that spirit of solidarity and love to this event while raising money to support and protect those whose rights are most under attack. I’m so grateful to be part of a community that embraces an event (and cause) like this.”  

The organizers were also excited to pick Montclair Brewery as the venue because it’s a Black-woman-owned business in the heart of town, and they feel fortunate the brewery is lending them the space at no cost. 

“I know the four of us really like to start locally, and that encompasses all the different aspects of our mission, and so we definitely were excited to pick a local place, '' Ferris-Jones said. 

There will be a female DJ all night called “DJ SoLovely,” who will feature music that empowers women. 

 “It feels powerful to come together as one and make a statement through something joyful and communal like dancing,” Placek said. “That is kind of a direct ‘[expletive] you’ to anyone saying they can control our bodies.”


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